Urgent Museum Notice


Close up of Orion

Painting features vertical tile-shaped brushstrokes in various shades of red separated by horizontal white lines. Creating a rhythmic and mosaic-like pattern that resembles stitching, the white lines create stairsteps in the lower right corner, separating as they move towards the center.

Alma Woodsey Thomas, Orion, 1973; Acrylic on canvas, 59 3/4 x 54 in.; Courtesy of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © Estate of Alma Woodsey Thomas; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Alma Woodsey Thomas

For her earliest abstractions, Alma Woodsey Thomas sought inspiration in the natural world. Beginning in 1969, she turned her gaze skyward for her “Space Paintings” series, which included Orion.

NASA’s space program fascinated Thomas. Photographs from the Apollo missions and satellites provided new ways to see the world. She declared herself captivated by the “heavens and stars and my idea of what it was like to be an astronaut, exploring space.”

Though her title alludes to the constellation Orion, Thomas did not seek to portray it literally. Rather, her signature, mosaic-like brushwork creates a flickering quality as our eyes follow the rhythmic interplay of red and white across the canvas.

In many of her late paintings, Thomas focused on a single color for this canvas. Her choice of red shades and tones in Orion evoked, for her, the power required to break from earth’s gravity.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Alma Woodsey Thomas
  • Title

  • Date

  • Medium

    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions

    64 x 53 3/4 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
  • Photo Credit

    © Estate of Alma Woodsey Thomas; Photo by Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display